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Foundation Guide - CODE (NGO)


To advance literacy and education around the world so that children everywhere can have a chance to reach their full potential.

Code operates around the globe in regions with the greatest need, such as in the First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada, the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania.

Supported Causes

CODE supports a variety of causes that promote literacy and education for children in need. Causes include Adopt a Library, CODE on Campus, and several fundraising and volunteer activities. In certain areas around the world, schools and community libraries are the only way people can really find books and other reading materials. As such, CODE supports the establishment of schools and libraries in Sierra Leone and Liberia through the Adopt-a-Library program. CODE on Campus is a network of students from universities and colleges who are committed to improving literacy rates worldwide. These students set up clubs that raise awareness about global literacy issues and the projects funded by CODE. The organization works with local in-country partners and invests in the development of the skills of education officials and local leaders to be equipped to work with literacy initiatives.

Projects must promote literacy for disadvantaged young people from a select range of developing regions.


  • The Burt Award – The Burt Award has three categories: The Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young-Adult Literature; the Burt Award for Caribbean Young-Adult Literature; and the Burt Award for African Young-Adult Literature. The program’s goal is to recognize excellence in young-adult literature and to increase the availability of engaging books that young people will want to read. As of 2018, 89 titles had been awarded.
  • Reading CODE is an all-inclusive readership initiative in eight developing African countries. Reading CODE works with local teachers, writers, publishers, and librarians to support literacy and learning in K-12 schools. Over 1,500 schools have benefited from this program, and more than 225,000 books have been donated.
  • The BETTER project – Better Education through Teacher Training and Empowerment for Results (BETTER) is aimed at improving the education of young people in Mozambique through the enhancement of the education received by their teachers. These teachers are given instruction in training institutes that focus specifically on promoting literacy and language skills, creating quality teaching materials, and advancing gender equality in education.

The Foundation's History

Dr. Roby Kidd and his colleagues launched Books for Developing Countries (BDC) in 1959 from a small church basement. In 1982, the organization was renamed the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE). Over the years, CODE has won a number of awards including the UNESCO International Literacy Award in 1985 and the Government of Canada Literacy Innovation Award in 1997.